What exactly happens when I drop off a computer and ask you to make it work better?

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Ooh! I love this question!

It’s not super frequently asked, if ever, but I’m going to answer it anyways.


If you’re dropping off a device, I get you to fill out a form. This helps me understand more about your usage of the device, and the device itself. I like to understand the following:

  • Is it currently working to your expectation?
  • Has it ever broken or been repaired before, and/or how old it is?
  • What drives you crazy about its behaviour
  • How long has it been driving you crazy
  • Have you noticed it changing recently in terms of symptoms

The form also helps with a couple other things

  • Who you are, and that this device is yours
  • How to contact you
  • If anyone else uses this computer, which may mean that there would be additional user accounts, or if someone else may have been doing things on there.
  • An ongoing health record if the machine comes back
  • Accountability so I retain notes of any actions I took

So, once your machine is checked in, and each part marked with a little tag that goes onto your form, the checklist begins. (Currently 3rd page of the form). I look at the following:

  • Physical condition. I often open up the computer and show you. I look at age and health of parts.
  • Mental condition. What is the computer currently at in terms of processor usage, memory usage, hard drive storage.
  • Software. Are there things on the machine installed that do not belong? Things that are known to let malware in? Is there evidence of malware itself?
  • Protection. Is the antivirus working, is there enough protection installed? Does the browser usage indicate a higher level of protection would be good. Is the browser itself slowed by extensions?
  • Backup and Security. Is the device backed up? Is there personal data easily accessible on the device, and does the user know and realize the risk. Can risk be mitigated.
  • Future planning. Is this device going to continue serving well, or should it be replaced soon, or portions thereof replaced.

So, let me say that this currently triages as a White, or non-critical. Sometimes during some of my checks, it becomes clear that there are critical issues, and the process then changes. Specifically, I contact the customer and explain that their data/hardware is at risk, and that specific action should be taken. This may be an immediate backup, or immediate hardware replacement. This would be a triage as Orange if the part is available, or Green if the part requires thought/waiting/ordering.

Now, if I have a lot of machines, I will focus on the critical machines, before the non-critical machines. Some actions really are time sensitive. Data loss is a terrible terrible thing, and so I really want to protect against it.

Hopefully this describes a basic computer visit.

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